Eclipse Foundation Approves Gemini, Virgo Projects

Both projects under the Eclipse Runtime project

The Eclipse Foundation has given a thumbs up to two new projects under the Eclipse Runtime (RT) project. Eclipse Virgo and Eclipse Gemini are both about modularization, though they come at it from slightly different places.

The Virgo project was proposed by SpringSource in January, and is based on the VMware subsidiary's plan to contribute its dm Server code to EclipseRT. The Java application server's kernel and all its related assets are now part of Virgo, as are some of the tools SpringSource developed specifically for it.

Released in 2008, the dm Server was the first OSGi-based Java app server. It was also the only app server specifically designed to run applications developed for the popular Spring Framework in enterprise environments.

"The driving reason behind this decision," Adam FitzGerald, director of developer relations at SpringSource, said in an earlier interview, "is that, although OSGi is a very successful technology, it still hasn't reached mainstream penetration for the average enterprise Java application, and we think that has been a hindrance to the productivity of enterprise Java in general, and to the success of our customers and user base."

SpringSource is the main code-contributor to the Virgo project and will serve as project lead.

SpringSource and Oracle proposed the Gemini project last year. Gemini aims to provide open source reference implementations of recently finalized OSGi standards for using a modular framework in a large enterprise to build applications.

In his blog post announcing the new project back in December, SpringSource CTO Adrian Colyer, wrote that the initial projects being contributed to Gemini "represent the fruits of our combined labor in the OSGi Alliance Enterprise Expert group. Now that work in that group is picking up pace, we wanted somewhere to pool together our collective reference implementations of the specification components in order to make it easier for you to find all of the relevant pieces. In addition, Gemini provides a way for you to have influence on the evolution of enterprise OSGi by participation in the projects."

Oracle will be leading the Gemini project, and both Oracle and SpringSource are contributing code.

The Open Services Gateway Initiative (OSGi) is a specification that defines an architecture for developing and deploying modular applications and libraries. The OSGi Alliance, the industry consortium behind the spec, announced this week the release of the OSGi 4.2 specification from its expert group.

The Eclipse Foundation has a very strong relationship with the OSGi Alliance, Milinkovich said. Equinox, the core runtime for the Eclipse framework, is an implementation of the OSGi R4 core framework specification, he pointed out.

Milinkovich was on hand at the seventh annual EclipseCon conference, currently underway in Santa Clara, Calif., where the new projects were unveiled. Modularity is becoming a critical enterprise application development issue, he said, because of the proliferation of larger and more complex systems.

Modularity has already become popular among companies that build software products, Milinkovich said. Glassfish, WebSphere, WebLogic, SAP Netweaver, Tibco's ESB -- large, complicated systems, all of which are built on top of OSGi. But it's also gaining currency among enterprise developers.

"Modularity greatly enhances your ability to reuse code," he said. "With good modularity systems, it's much easier to pull together components from various sources and actually have them run together -- to basically mashup your apps." The dm Server (Virgo), for example, exposes OSGi as the programming model to the application developer.

The result is the "stackless stack" that allows enterprise developers to pull together exactly the components they need to solve the business problem at hand, he said, and the bundles being created are on a first-class footing with the underlying infrastructure. "Just as everything in the Eclipse IDE is a plugin," Milinkovich said, "everything in EclipseRT is a bundle."

Currently 15 companies are involved in various aspects of the 10 EclipseRT projects, Milinkovich said.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at

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